On October 22, 2020, Boston-based Atea Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (“Atea”) announced an agreement with Roche for the exclusive rights to research, develop and distribute AT-527 as an oral antiviral treatment for COVID-19 in territories outside of the United States. Under the terms of the agreement, Atea received an upfront payment of $350 million in cash from Roche with the potential for future milestone payments and royalties.

AT-527 is an orally administered, direct-acting antiviral agent derived from Atea’s purine nucleotide prodrug platform. At-527 is currently under evaluation as a treatment for patients with COVID-19. AT-527 is designed to inhibit viral replication by interfering with viral RNA polymerase, a key component in the replication machinery of RNA viruses, such as positive single-stranded human flaviviruses and human coronaviruses. AT-527 is currently in a global Phase 2 clinical study for hospitalized patients with moderate COVID-19 and has plans to initiate a global, registrational Phase 3 clinical trial in outpatients in the first half of 2021. Additionally, Atea is planning to study in a Phase 3 clinical trial the use of AT-527 in the post-exposure prophylaxis setting.

Roche Pharmaceuticals CEO Bill Anderson said that “the ongoing complexities of COVID-19 require multiple lines of defense. By joining forces with Atea, we hope to offer an additional treatment option for hospitalized and non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients, and to ease the burden on hospitals during a global pandemic.”

Atea, founded in 2014, is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering, developing and commercializing antiviral therapeutics to improve the lives of patients suffering from life-threatening viral infections.  Atea was co-founded and is led by CEO and chairman Dr. Jean-Pierre Sommadossi, principal founder of Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc. and a co-founder of Pharmasset Inc.  On October 30, 2020, Atea raised an additional $300 million in an initial public offering.

“Roche shares our passion for delivering innovative new medicines to address great unmet medical needs. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgent need for a novel, oral antiviral to treat this highly infectious and often deadly virus,” said Jean-Pierre Sommadossi, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Atea Pharmaceuticals. “This collaboration with Roche enhances Atea’s efforts and underscores the potential for AT-527 to effectively address the COVID-19 crisis on a global scale. AT-527 is expected to be ideally suited to combat COVID-19 as it inhibits viral replication by interfering with viral RNA polymerase, a key component in the replication machinery of RNA viruses. Importantly, the manufacturing process for our small molecule direct-acting antiviral allows us to produce AT-527 quickly and at scale.”

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